Fibroadenomas are a common benign (non-cancerous) breast condition. In a fibroadenoma, there is an overgrowth of tissue that supports the breast and an overgrowth of cells lining the milk ducts in the breast. You can find more information below.

What is a fibroadenoma?

Fibroadenomas are solid, noncancerous breast lumps that are most common in women between the ages of 15 and 35. A fibroadenoma can be firm, smooth, rubbery, or firm and has a well-defined shape. It’s usually painless, feels like a lump in your breast, and can move easily under your skin. Breast lumps vary in size and can grow or shrink on their own.

Fibroadenomas are the most common noncancerous (benign) breast lumps in young women. Treatment may include procedures such as monitoring to detect changes in size or feel, a biopsy to evaluate the lump, or surgery to remove it.

Fibroadenoma types and causes

The cause of these breast lumps is unknown, but they may be related to reproductive hormones. These types of breast lumps are more common during the reproductive years, may enlarge during pregnancy or with hormone therapy, and may shrink after menopause when hormone levels drop.

Fibroadenoma types

In addition to simple fibroadenomas, there are several different types:

  • Complex fibroadenomas: These may include changes such as an overgrowth of cells with the potential to grow rapidly ( hyperplasia ). A pathologist diagnoses a complex fibroadenoma after examining tissue in a biopsy.
  • Juvenile fibroadenomas: This is the most common type of breast lump found in girls and adolescents aged 10 to 18 years. This type of breast lump may enlarge, but most of the time it will get smaller and some will disappear.
  • Giant fibroadenomas: These can be larger than 2 inches (5 centimeters). They may need to be removed because they are putting pressure on or changing other breast tissues.
  • Phyllodes tumor: Although usually benign, some phyllodes tumors can become cancerous ( malignant ). Doctors usually recommend removing them.
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Fibroadenoma symptoms

Fibroadenomas are breast lumps that are usually solid and are as follows:

  • Rounded and distinct, with smooth edges
  • moves easily
  • It can be hard or rubbery
  • Painless (many women wonder if fibroadenoma is painful)

There may be one or more fibroadenomas in one or both breasts.

Do fibroadenomas grow?

These breast lumps are sensitive to hormonal change. It often changes during the menstrual cycle, often becoming more prominent and more sensitive before a menstrual period.

Breast lumps can grow during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. They usually do not interfere with a woman’s ability to breastfeed.

It is estimated that about one-third of these breast lumps will decrease in size or even disappear completely if left to their own devices.

When should you see a doctor?

It is useful to see your doctor in the following situations:

  • If you detect a new breast lump
  • If you notice other changes in your breasts
  • A breast lump you have checked before is enlarged, changed in another way, and appears to be separate from the surrounding breast tissue

Fibroadenoma diagnosis

During a clinical breast exam, your doctor will check both breasts for lumps and other problems. Some breast lumps are too small to be felt, so they can only be discovered on imaging tests.

If there is a lump that can be felt, your doctor may recommend certain tests or procedures, depending on your age and the characteristics of the lump.

Tests to evaluate breast lumps

  • Mammography: Mammography uses X-rays to produce an image of suspicious areas in your breast tissue. A fibroadenoma may appear on a mammogram as a smooth, rounded-edged breast mass that is different from the surrounding breast tissue.
  • Breast ultrasound: This technology uses sound waves to produce pictures of the inside of the breast. Your doctor may recommend a breast ultrasound in addition to a mammogram to evaluate breast lumps if you have dense breast tissue. For women younger than 30 who also have breast lumps, the doctor will likely order a breast ultrasound first to evaluate the lump. If a mammogram shows a breast lump or other abnormality, a breast ultrasound may be used to further evaluate the lump. A breast ultrasound can help your doctor determine whether a breast lump is solid or filled with fluid. A solid mass is a fibroadenoma; A fluid-filled mass is likely a cyst.
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Procedures for assessing breast lumps

  • Fine needle aspiration: With a fine needle placed in your chest, your doctor tries to extract the contents of the breast lump. If fluid does come out, the lump is likely a cyst.
  • Core needle biopsy: A radiologist guided by ultrasound usually performs this procedure. The doctor uses a needle to collect tissue samples from the lump, and the tissue samples are analyzed in the lab.

Fibroadenoma treatment

In most cases, these breast lumps do not require treatment. However, some women may choose to have it surgically removed for peace of mind.

non-surgical management

If your doctor is reasonably confident that your breast mass is a fibroadenoma – based on the results of a clinical breast exam, imaging test, and biopsy – this may not require surgery. Because you have reasons for not wanting to have surgery, such as:

  • Surgery can distort the shape and texture of the breast
  • These breast lumps sometimes shrink or disappear on their own
  • The breast has multiple breast lumps that appear to be stable

If you choose not to have surgery, it is important to monitor the fibroadenoma with follow-up visits to your doctor for breast ultrasounds to detect changes in the appearance or size of the mass. If you later worry about the fibroadenoma, you may want to reconsider surgery to remove it.

Surgical treatment

If one of your tests — clinical breast exam, imaging test, or biopsy — is abnormal or the lump is overgrown, causing symptoms, your doctor may recommend surgery to remove the fibroadenoma.

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Procedures to remove this type of breast lump include:

  • Lumpectomy or excisional biopsy: In this procedure, the surgeon removes breast tissue and sends it to a lab to check for cancer.
  • Cryoablation: Your doctor inserts a thin, wand-like device ( cryoprobe ) through your skin into the fibroadenoma. A gas is then used to freeze and destroy the tissue.

After a breast lump is removed, it is possible for one or more new breast lumps to develop. New breast lumps should be evaluated with a mammogram, ultrasound, and possibly biopsy to determine if they are fibroadenomas or may become cancerous.

Complications of fibroadenoma

Most such breast lumps do not affect your risk of breast cancer. However, your risk of breast cancer may be slightly increased if you have a complex fibroadenoma or phyllodes tumor.

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